On This Day

Penny Black

The Penny Black stamp featured Queen Victoria
The Penny Black stamp featured Queen Victoria

Historical Context

The Penny Black, issued by Great Britain was the world's first adhesive postal stamp used by a public postal system. The stamp features a profile of a young Queen Victoria.

In 1837 it was normal for the recipient to pay postage on delivery, charged by the sheet and on distance traveled making posting and receiving a simple letter a complex affair.

To simplify things, Rowland Hill proposed an adhesive stamp to indicate pre-payment of postage. The Penny Black and later other stamps, allowed letters of up to 1⁄2 ounce (14 grams) to be delivered, regardless of distance at a flat rate of one penny.

The total print run was 286,700 sheets, a total of 68,808,000 stamps, each now worth around £500.

Photo Info

Location taken: London, England, United Kingdom

Related Events

  • 1840-05-01 "Penny Black", the world's first adhesive postage stamp issued by Great Britain
  • 1840-05-06 World's first adhesive postage stamp, the "Penny Black", is first used in Great Britain

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Historical Photos